|$1,176 for 2 nights!|
While it's not restricted just to the pharmaceutical industry, the meetings I work are overwhelmingly for major pharma companies. I'm not allowed to name names, but these are major companies you are very familiar with.
If it's any indicator of how business is done, there's a lot of overspending in the drug industry. I believe this is one reason why drug prices are so high.
Here's An Example of the Excessive Spending
This week I am working as a Travel Director for a major pharmaceutical company for a 3 day meeting in Orlando. The company has representatives attending a larger conference and, while there, has reserved a couple of meeting rooms to conduct business. I am responsible for overseeing one of the two rooms, and a friend of mine is handling the other.
My Hotel Room: $1,176.75
It's standard practice in this industry to provide lodging for Travel Directors, even if the meeting is taking place in my hometown. I might be working from 5 in the morning until 10 at night. There's no time to commute. But I would be lying if I told you it was needed for this meeting. Yes, I need a room, but there's no reason I couldn't commute 5-10 minutes from a less-expensive hotel. I'm working from 8am-4:30pm each day, and there's no possibility of being needed after hours for anything.
My Conference Registration: $1,555
This one seems completely unnecessary. Yes, the company is holding meetings while a parallel convention is taking place. But I won't be attending any of those meetings. The company I am representing is renting two meeting rooms directly from the hotel, so I won't need a convention badge to be in those rooms. Sure, it's nice to have a badge - that means I can eat at the meals the larger convention is providing. But that's the only benefit. Instead, I could easily eat from one of the resort's many restaurants and expense my meal.
I am paid a day rate, plus reimbursed for my mileage. The agency I work for is paid a fee. The company is over-nighting me a sign for my meeting room (odd, since they knew they needed a sign at least a week before the meeting). They are also shipping me a special tie to wear for branding purposes.
Now, multiply these costs by two since there are two of us attending. But wait, there's more! For my meeting room, the company will be having end of day gatherings to go over everything. This is entirely internal - no clients to impress. And since these meetings may go late into the night, a third Travel Director was hired to "relieve" me at 4:30 each day. There's also an AV tech to manage the rented projector and screen as well as the cost of the room itself.
But Frugal Miser, there must be a lot of work getting done in your meeting room, right? That's debatable. I've been told to expect 3-4 meetings over the course of 3 days with no more than 10 people at any meeting (and most likely less than that!). For this one event, the company is spending over $10,000 to host two small meeting rooms over a 3 day period.